Emily Dodd is a Brisbane-based oboist and writer. Emily has played with the Queensland Youth Symphony, the University of Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the Quintessential Wind Quintet at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Also interested in writing and research, Emily has written a history of the Queensland Youth Orchestra’s Music Outreach program and is currently completing her Honours in History at the University of Queensland.
Emily is passionate about music education, communication and outreach to regional Australia. Emily has participated in the Australian Youth Orchestra’s Words About Music Program under the tutelage of Phillip Sametz and has experience writing program notes, long-form articles and undertaking research about music.
Q: What made you decide that you wanted a life in music? Was there a particular moment (an epiphany, if you like) that led you to this decision, or was the process more gradual?
A: For me, the process was definitely more gradual. Music has always been a part of my life and will continue to be, no matter the career path that I end up taking. My brother and I started piano lessons in grade one. My piano teacher and her husband played the oboe and bassoon respectively, so it sort of made sense for my brother and I to be designated an instrument. My brother had bigger hands, so he went with the bassoon and that left me with the oboe!
I found it difficult to decide what I wanted to do after Year 12. I really liked being able to participate in a variety of things during school; to all of a sudden be expected to specialise in one thing at the age of 16 was pretty daunting. I ultimately decided to study history, something else I love, but kept up with oboe playing. It wasn’t until the later years of my degree that I started looking for a bridge between my love of music and my love of history and writing.
Q: What sort of working life in the profession are you aiming for? Do you have a picture of what you’d like to be doing in the short term? And beyond that? Has the pandemic affected the decisions you’ve made?
A: I would love to work in arts administration, particularly in arts education outreach. I want to make music as accessible as possible, especially music education for kids in regional areas. I have loved being part of some QYO regional tours, bringing live music to kids who wouldn’t ordinarily have that sort of access. I would be interested in curating some of the children’s programs for music organisations, as well as working in their regional outreach programs. I also enjoy writing program notes, creating social media content and writing articles, so am pretty much open to anything at this stage. I just know that the general direction I want to be headed in is music education and outreach.
Q: Can you tell me about one of your favourite classical pieces, in your capacities as performer and/or listener? Can you tell me why you love this music so much? (You’re allowed to choose more than one piece!)
A: As a listener, my absolute favourite piece is the Ravel Piano Concerto in G. I remember sitting in QPAC, hearing the QSO play this piece of music that was just such an explosion of contrast, dynamics, textures, everything. I also absolutely adore the glorious cor anglais solo in the second movement — though I do not envy the player!
I really enjoy Nigel Westlake’s music — particularly Compassion, the Penguin Ballet from Antarctica and his Oboe Concerto, called Spirit of the Wild. Seeing Diana Doherty nail that concerto was absolutely marvellous. I think that Westlake really captures Australia in his compositions — from the culture to the landscape to the history.
One of my favourite orchestral pieces I’ve performed in has to be The Rite of Spring. While it was definitely one of the most challenging, ensemble-wise, I will never forget its ferocity, passion, intricacy and tenderness. Stravinsky really changed the way the orchestra could be used. And of course, an absolute highlight was performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. What a legendary, mammoth and momentous piece of music!
Q: What kind of role do you think the virtual space will play in the world of professional music-making in the next few years?
A: I think there will definitely be challenges in the way that we approach ticket sales, and the way that arts organisations are traditionally run, in a financial and logistical sense. On the other hand, this move to the digital space will ensure that music will have to become more accessible than ever before. Innovations like Melbourne Digital Concert Hall mean that anyone in Australia can access live classical music, with barriers such as location and disability not having as much of an impact. Surely, the virtual space can also have some positive repercussions?
Emily Dodd is an alumnus of the Words About Music program, AYO National Music Camp 2021.